“Begin to observe your life more and try to awaken the observer in you, the high self. Thinkers from Plato to Freud have talked about the three selves we have within us. I call them the high self, the conscious self, and the basic self. The conscious self is the personality; the basic self is the child. When the conscious self decides to go on a diet, the basic self eats chocolate cake. The high self if the god within us, the part that is eternal and divine. It is always there but we need to activate it…Listen to the slow, still voice we call intuition.” Arianna Huffington
Our self-image is formed by allowing ourselves to be influenced by various authority figures. As we mature and accept the responsibility of defining ourselves, these internalized voices of authority must each be examined and evaluated. It is only when we take back our own power to define ourselves that we are truly free.
Our conscious mind is where thoughts are formed. Our subconscious mind is where our creative mind takes root. As we learn to harness the vast power and energy of the subconscious mind, we are tapping into our real source.
Transactional analysis therapists estimate that we each have 25,000 hours of internalized negative self-talk. We are generally taught what is wrong with us by our authority figures at home, school, church, etc. In an effort to understand who we are, we accept these self-limiting labels as who we are. However, we each individually are the only one who can truly “know” who we are, or, at least, we are in the best position to make the best educated guess. Learn to challenge the “voices” (one of friends called them “the committee”) or negative self-talk you carry around in your head. Listen to what you tell yourself about you.
In learning to monitor your inner critic, learn to first determine if the criticism is helpful. If you find the suggestion to be helpful, next check to see if the inner critic is kind, gentle, and polite to you. If it is in a condemning voice, ask you inner critic to speak kinder to you.
The techniques you may use to change your inner critic from enemy to friend are: speed up the volume, mimic a falsetto voice, etc. My favorite ploy when I was learning this was to scream “Stop”. It is better to practice these techniques while alone. As someone has suggested—learn to join the airwaves until you own the station.
Self-esteem comes from how we evaluate and accept or reject input as well as the foundation we’ve created from the successes we’ve experienced. By learning to focus on our strengths rather than on our weaknesses, we have each take charge of our own destiny.
After learning how to utilize our inner critic, we next need to take charge of our thoughts. What we choose to focus our thinking on determines what we will think and feel about ourselves. You are what you think you are. By substituting positive self-talk for negative self-talk, we are re-programming ourselves for positive action.
Stephen Williamson has a very complete article about what positive psychology is. He writes that Martin Seligman“s defining the character traits to help anyone reach his/her full potential. These traits from Williamson’s article are grouped under six themes:
1. Wisdom and Knowledge – The acquisition and use of knowledge
2. Courage – exercising will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition, external or internal.
3. Humanity and Love – Positive social interaction with other people.
4. Justice – Healthy community life.
5. Temperance – Protecting against excess.
6. Transcendence – Connections to the larger universe and meaning and purpose in life
“Don’t evaluate your life in terms of achievements, trivial or monumental, along the way. If you do, you will be destined to the frustration of always seeking out other destinations, and never allowing yourself actually to be fulfilled…Instead, wake up and appreciate everything you encounter along your path. Enjoy the flowers that are there for your pleasure. Tune in to the sunrise, the little children, the laughter, the rain and the birds. Drink it all in…Drink it all in…there is no way to happiness; happiness IS the way.”
I have written about the importance of using transactional analysis to discover which of your inner voices has the main track. Our feelings come from our thoughts. So if we are basically in our inner child, we may feel inadequate, angry, abused, etc.
My previous articles are:Getting Control of Your Mind by Using Transactional Analysis and/or Learn to Listen to Your Inner Self with Transactional Analysis.
TA teaches us that we have inner child, inner parent, and inner adult. Each of these three mind sets also have good and bad components to each of them. The components of each of these is explained very well by Dr. Claude Steiner. Dr. Steiner’s biography is here.
The components excerpts are from this page:
(1) “Ego States and Transactions: People’s interactions are made up of transactions. Any one transactions has two parts: the stimulus and the response. Individual transactions are usually part of a larger set. Some of these transactional sets or sequences can be direct, productive and healthy or they can be devious, wasteful and unhealthy.”
“When people interact they do so in one of three different ego states. An ego state is a specific way of thinking feeling and behaving and each ego state has its origin in specific regions of the brain. People can behave from their Parent ego state, or from their Child ego state or from their Adult ego state. At any one time our actions come from one of these three ego states.”
“You know that “inner child” we hear so much about — the one that’s supposedly deep inside of all of us?”
“Well, I live with it. As a matter of fact, I call him “Austin.”
“In the five years I’ve been a parent, I’ve realized that the notion of the inner child is more than just a neat psychological construct. It’s very nearly a literal thing. As we grow up, we don’t change so much as drape layer after complicated layer of adult emotion on top of that inner child. The child doesn’t vanish; he just gets obscured and filtered.”
“You don’t get an evolved, new mature being. You get Austin with fifteen blankets over his head.”
“Because that kid always remains at our core (and if you’ve ever caught yourself playing kids’ games with genuine enjoyment, you know that it does), our base motivations remain as well. They just get a little harder to see.”
(3) “Art of Attention: Awakening” by Elena Brower encourages self-observation:
“Self observation, leading to self mastery, is the most neutral scientific observation of one’s self in order to discover from which center [physical, emotional or mental] the current reactions are flowing. Translated: to see which part of your being is enslaved to some external circumstance right now. To do so, practice watching your tendencies with curiosity instead of dread or judgment; the slightest bit of agility with your attention is all you need to bring you back to what is really happening, and your heart becomes more nimble all the time.”
[Tangentially, an example for the parents: your child needs you to be unshakably calm. Through watching myself overreact with my child, I’ve learned that to be an attentive parent is just to offer the simplest, calm responsiveness – and that our calm is infectious every time. I write this so I will remember this.]”
TRANSACTIONS; COMPLEMENTARY, CROSSED AND COVERT. Transactions occur when any person relates to any other person. Each transaction is made up a stimulus and a response and transactions can proceed from the Parent, Adult or Child of one person to the Parent, Adult or Child of another person.
Complimentary and Crossed Transactions. A complimentary transaction involves one ego state in each person. In a crossed transaction the transactional response is addressed to an ego state different from the one which started the stimulus.
Communication can continue between two people as long as transactions are complimentary: Crossed transactions are important because they disrupt communication. This is useful to know because it helps transactional analysts understand how and why communication is disrupted. The rule is: “whenever a disruption of communication occurs, a crossed transaction caused it.” One very important kind of crossed transaction is the discount transaction. Here a person, in his response, completely disregards the contents of a transactional stimulus. Discounts are not always obvious but are always disruptive to the person receiving them and if repeated can severely disturb the recipient.
Covert Transactions. Covert transactions occur when people say one thing and mean another. Covert transactions are the basis of games and are especially interesting because they are deceptive. They have a social (overt) and a psychological (covert) level.
It is important to know the difference between the social and covert levels because in order to understand and predict what people are going to do, the covert level will give provide more information than the overt level.
One important reason we say one thing and mean another is that we are generally ashamed of our Child’s or Parent’s desires and feelings. Nevertheless, we act on these desires and express those feelings while we pretend to be doing otherwise. For instance, we may use smiling sarcasm instead of a direct expression of our anger, or when scared we may counter-attack instead of admitting our fears.
When we want attention or love we often feign indifference, and we have trouble giving or accepting them. In fact, because our lives are so immersed in half-truth and deception it can happen that we no longer know what it is our Child really wants. We also don’t expect people to be completely honest so that we never really know whether we can trust what they say. Transactional analysts encourage people to be honest with one another, and with themselves, about their wants and feelings, rather than “crooked” and covert. In this manner people can find out what they want, how to ask for it and, if possible, how to get it.
THE STROKE ECONOMY. One of the harmful aspects of the Critical Parent is that it has a set of rules that govern the giving and taking of strokes (Don’t give, ask for, accept or give yourself strokes) The effect of these rules, called the stroke economy, is that people are prevented from freely stroking each other and taking care of their stroke needs. As a consequence, most human beings live in a state of stroke hunger in which they survive on a deficient diet of strokes — in a manner similar to persons who are starved for food — and spend a great deal of time and effort in trying to satisfy their hunger. Positive strokes, sometimes called “warm fuzzies,” such as holding hands or saying “I love you,” give the person receiving them a feeling of being OK. There are also negative strokes, which are painful forms of recognition such as sarcasm, putdowns, a slap, an insult or saying “I hate you.” Negative strokes make the person receiving them feel not OK. Still, even though unpleasant, negative strokes are a form of recognition and prevent “the spinal cord from shriveling up.” For this reason, people prefer a situation of negative strokes to a situation without strokes at all. This explains why some people seem to intentionally hurt themselves in their relationships with others. It is not because “they enjoy hurting themselves” but because they can’t get positive recognition, and choose painful negative strokes to having no strokes.
People can learn to exchange strokes freely, open the hearts and give and ask for strokes without shame or embarrassment. Different strokes appeal to different people and everyone has their special, secret wishes. There are many kinds of positive strokes – there are physical strokes and verbal strokes. Physical strokes can be hugs, kisses, holding, caresses, strong or light, sexy, sensual or just friendly, nurturing or slightly teasing and so on. Verbal strokes can be about a people’s looks – their face, body, posture or movements or about a person’s personality – their intelligence, loving nature sensitivity or courage. In any case, people need and deserve strokes and if they ask for them they will usually find someone who has just the strokes they want and is willing to give them
To add to our collection of transactional analysis books:
(6) TA Today: A New Introduction to Transactional Analysis by Ian Stewart and Vann Joines
By A Customer-“Best introduction to current transactional analysis, both for anyone and professionals. Introduces the key concepts of TA in a very practical manner. You are also encouraged to work on yourself using the concepts. Very easy to read and comprehensive at the same time.’
(7) Transactional Analysis: 100 Key Points and Techniques by Mark Widdowson
“Transactional Analysis (TA) is a versatile and comprehensive system of psychotherapy. Transactional Analysis: 100 Key Points and Techniques synthesizes developments in the field, making complex material accessible and offering practical guidance on how to apply the theory and refine TA psychotherapy skills in practice.”
(8) Transactional Analysis Psychotherapy (Advancing Theory in Therapy) by Helena Hargaden and Charlotte Sills
From Amazon’s product notes-
“Transactional Analysis: A Relational Perspective presents a relational model of psychotherapy which reflects the theoretical and methodological changes that have been evolving over recent years.”
“In this book, Helena Hargaden and Charlotte Sills tell the story of their model through case history, theory and diagram illustrating how the unconscious process comes to life in the consulting room. Their relational theory and applied methodology of transactional analysis makes it possible to chart realms of uncertainty and the unknown, (deconfusion of the Child ego state), with theoretical assistance.”
(9) Raising Kids O.K.-Transactional Analysis in Human growth and Development by Dorothy Ellen Babcock and Terry D. Keepers
“This was the first growth and development book addressed to parents for child-raising within the framework of Transactional Analysis. Unlike earlier books which focused on an understanding of adult behavioral difficulties, this is the first book showing the parents how to bring up their children so that they will become adults with intimacy, awareness, and spontaneity they need to live happy and fulfilled lives.”
“This book covers normal psychological development, emphasizing healthy family functioning and including the entire life span. Filled with down-to-earth, practical advice, it guides the parents to an understanding of the child’s needs in term of emotional help and time structuring.”
(10) A New Self: Self-Therapy with Transactional Analysis by Muriel James and Louis Savary
No notes available.
Business Balls defines the three roles (called ego states) as:
Physical – angry or impatient body-language and expressions, finger-pointing, patronizing gestures,
Verbal – always, never, for once and for all, judgmental words, critical words, patronizing language, posturing language.
N.B. beware of cultural differences in body-language or emphases that appear ‘Parental’.
Physical – emotionally sad expressions, despair, temper tantrums, whining voice, rolling eyes, shrugging shoulders, teasing, delight, laughter, speaking behind hand, raising hand to speak, squirming and giggling.
Verbal – baby talk, I wish, I don’t know, I want, I’m going to, I don’t care, oh no, not again, things never go right for me, worst day of my life, bigger, biggest, best, many superlatives, words to impress.
Physical – attentive, interested, straight-forward, tilted head, non-threatening and non-threatened.
Verbal – why, what, how, who, where and when, how much, in what way, comparative expressions, reasoned statements, true, false, probably, possibly, I think, I realize, I see, I believe, in my opinion.
Modern developments for TA has been defined by several people—Claude Steiner is a recognized leader. Business balls gives these definitions:
Parent is now commonly represented as a circle with four quadrants:
Nurturing – Nurturing (positive) and Spoiling (negative).
Controlling – Structuring (positive) and Critical (negative).
Child is now commonly represented as circle with four quadrants:
Adapted – Co-operative (positive) and Compliant/Resistant (negative).
Free – Spontaneous (positive) and Immature (negative).
Adult remains as a single entity, representing an ‘accounting’ function or mode, which can draw on the resources of both Parent and Child.
A more complex and complete definition of the modern TA theory is written by Claude Steiner. He does a great job of including the evolution of ideas for this counseling method.
A quite clever diagram at changingminds.org shows the interactions of the parent, child and adult. The roles pictured here are: controlling parent (Do this. Stop that), nurturing parent (It’s OK), adult, adaptive child (No. Please), natural child (Whee. Wah!), the little professor (let’s try), and my favorite role (creative-‘free child’).
Further reading about Transactional Analysis:
Transactional Analysis Student—the study and training aids for trainee psychotherapists and counselors
TA Tudor includes a study guide for the TA 101 course and also has 400+ handouts